The eir Spiders are Ireland’s premier online awards

Meet the Judges 2017: Naoise Ó Conchubhair

November 6th, 2017



It’s been a busy year for Detail’s senior designer Naoise Ó Conchubhair.  ‘Helping Twitter make the move to their new EMEA HQ in Dublin; a new website and online communications platform for IADT: a full website redesign and development for our long standing client Design Partners, as well as our 2016 international promo campaign for the Irish Film Board which received the prestigious honour of a gold bell at the annual ICAD awards.’


Having been named Young Designer of the Year in the 2009 spiders, Naoise joined the judging panel hoping to give others the confidence and encouragement he gained from his experience as a nominee. When he first began to take an interest in web design Naoise felt the support just wasn’t there. Teachers in school lacked even the most basic knowledge of the internet not to mention more advance information like coding. Naoise


‘As a judge of the Irish language category, I get to mix my passion for design with my native language, an opportunity I don’t get often enough. It’s very rewarding to know that the decisions I make as a judge can have a big impact on the businesses and organisations receiving the awards and in turn contribute to promoting the Irish language.’

As a judge he’s enjoyed watching the industry grow and getting to see new talent develop into successful businesses. He believes that entries need to do more than have good visuals to grab the judges attention. Entries that tell a story are what really stand out for him. Naoise thinks that the eir spiders entries are ‘Better .Every .Year



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September 1st, 2017

Susie Horgan, Managing Director and Strategic Lead at Springboard PR & Marketing

Making strong relevant content is time consuming. So, when you get it right, you’ve got to shout about it! It’s vital that you maximise the exposure of your owned content, to get the ROI for your time. With some savvy know-how, businesses can leverage one piece of content to maximum reach and engagement.

  1. Find the Story

Good, shareable content always has a great story behind it. Take the time to see where your story lies, perhaps in a case study, event or new stats. Once you have identified the story, decide how you want it presented to your audience. It can be pitched it to print, online and radio and from there, this one story can be re-purposed and re-used across all your digital platforms

  1. Upload to your Website

If you write a guest article for a news outlet or blog, make sure you include it in the news section of your website, so that visitors to your page can see fresh and up-to-date content. It also shows that individuals in your business are experts in their field.

  1. Get Sharing

Once you have uploaded content to your website you should share a link on your Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram. This will drive content back to your website, improving organic SEO and increasing reach to your target audience. Ensure that the individual responsible for the content also shares the information to their personal LinkedIn profile (when relevant) so that you increase your reach to their audience too.

  1. Make it Part of your Next Email Campaign

Email marketing is a great way of engaging with your clients, so where better to share valuable content with them? Track your click-through rates to see what has the most impact and adjust your content with each campaign.

  1. Represent the Story Visually

80% of what you see visually is retained and 40% of people respond better to visual content*. For this simple reason, you should portray your story in any and all visual means possible. Convert your story into an infographic, create a graphic to highlight key quotes or stats, generate a GIF or a short video. These can then be re-used online across your platforms in rotation to actively engage your audiences.


This process is applicable to all aspects of the digital marketing trifecta. To learn more about paid, owned and earned media and how you can maximise valuable content for your company, join Susie Horgan, Managing Director and Strategic Lead at Springboard PR & Marketing for an Eir Spiders Digital Workshop in Cork Opera House on Tuesday September 12th.


Follow @Springboard_PR on Twitter for their weekly #TuesdayPRTip or go to their Insights section at


(*Stats obtained from and Thomson Reuters)

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[TWL] Today We Learned: eir Spiders Digital Workshop, Sligo

August 31st, 2017

We kicked off the eir Spiders Digital Workshops in the Building Block Sligo, a co-working space in the heart of the city for anyone in need of a desk, an office, WiFi and more. There we were joined by moderator Aiden Doyle, CEO of Sligo Chamber of Commerce; Sinead Carroll, Founder and CEO at Mini Media and Irish Blogger Agency; Daniel Browne, Commercial Director of Ocean Media and Director of Sea Sessions Surf and Music Festival; and Barry Walsh, Digital Marketing Manager for Supermacs.

With such an incredible group of professionals, it’s no surprise that we had our minds blown numerous times over the course of the morning, with our favourite lessons listed below.

Influencing the Influencers: Using Influencers to your Advantage.

Sinead Carroll, Founder and CEO at Mini Media and Irish Blogger Agency, is an expert in all things influencer and enlightened our attendees at the Sligo workshop.

Online influencers have taken on a huge role in recent years when it comes to consumer PR & Marketing, and anyone on social media is no stranger to #ad or #spon from their favourite bloggers and celebrities.


Influencers amass huge numbers of online fans, build trust and develop strong relationships with their followers through their own networks and getting a third-person endorsement from them can be invaluable to your business. When an influencer shares your content, product or service it is often worth more in PR value than an advertisement double its size – it can result in wide-scale attention , intensely targeted engagement with relevant audiences and generally increase your brand awareness.

But remember: your campaign must be strategic and you must be able to measure the success of the partnership.

Ensure you’re giving influencers’ tracked links to place in their content so you can see how much referral traffic is coming to your site from theirs.  Plan ahead; decide who you want to target, how much you’re willing to spend and set some key objectives that you want to see realised through the partnership.

‘May I present His Royal Highness, Content.’

Daniel Browne, Commercial Director of Ocean Media and of Director of Sea Sessions Surf and Music Festival has seen how content has always been king when engaging with your audience.

Whether it’s a print magazine or a 30-second video, what you’re saying and who you’re saying it to is something you need to think about. Think about your unique selling point and use that to build a narrative around your business that not only reflects your brand but really speaks to your audience. Tell them something unique in a way that they can understand and connect with.


Video is more popular than ever now, if a picture is worth a thousand words; a video is worth a million. Daniel showed our attendees some of the original video content he’s produced for the Sea Sessions Surf and Music Festival, highlighting the wow factor of video. Video has the capacity to transport the watcher from their couch or their office to the sea and the sounds of an incredible festival – what could make you want a ticket more?

Make it Personal – Know your Customer

Barry Walsh, Digital Marketing Manager for Supermacs, spoke about the importance of knowing who you’re targeting. Market segmentation is paramount to this and so Barry suggests creating personas for your target markets, know what they need, what they want, give them a name! Only then can you address how to engage with them. Every element of your content should be developed specifically to those personas – think about your imagery, wording, placement of your ads and how this would reach your target demographic.


Your customer should be at the heart of everything you do, throughout the process. Once you start generating content targeted at them, keep analysing and evaluating its effectiveness. Does one type of social media post get more likes than another? If so, ask yourself why. Have you spoken in a particular way or used some type of imagery that may resonate better with them? Analysing your content regularly can be effective market research.

Vive la (Social Media) Révolution!

Social Media is here to stay, so how do you make the new regime work for you and your business?  How do you know what to use and how to make it work?

Some businesses are on Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter or Facebook and every other app under the sun – however, their usefulness depends on your business and who you’re trying to reach. This is another area where market segmentation comes into play.

Snapchat is mostly used by 15 – 18 year olds so if they are who you want to target, that should be the first port of call. Once you’re confident you’re using the right social media channel for your audience it’s important to deliver that good quality content that Daniel mentioned. Ensure your post links back to your website, use high quality images and videos is essential, and above all, ensure you’re engaging directly with your followers – answer messages, reply to comments and use social media’s inbuilt analytics to see what’s working well.

Don’t miss the next workshops taking place in LimerickCork and Dublin in September. Find out more about where you can hear from leading digital experts near you and register now to be in with the chance of winning a prestigious eir Spider Award this November.

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Top Two Tips for SMEs

August 14th, 2017

We asked our judges and past winners what they believed were best ways to grow your SME, and received a myriad of responses – However, two recommendations popped up again and again in all their answers. These top answers were ‘Growth Hacking Content’ and ‘Customer Engagement’, and so we decided to share our judge’s thoughts on these key topics.

Growth Hacking Content

growth hack

Growth Hacking Content, put forward by eirSpiders judge Bill Liao as his top tip for SME’s, really encompasses all the buzzwords we’ve been hearing over the past few years; Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Shareable Content etc.  In an age where we are inundated with messages and calls-to-action it can be impossible to stand out, particularly online and on social media. An endless amount of research has been compiled to find out what ‘stops the scroll’ and makes readers take interest, and ultimately take action. Content, as always, is king – so whether it’s carefully composing headlines, being opportunistic with trends that are on-topic or just making sure you have really incredible visuals – it’s definitely something your SME should be putting thought into.

Robert Farrell echoes this sentiment, advising small businesses to, ‘Make sure your website has a good user experience, on desktop and mobile, as well as using Search Engine Optimisation. It’s also essential to have cohesive social media and content marketing strategies.’ Robert also suggest thinking about online advertising tools such as AdWords and Facebook’s ‘boost’ feature to amplify your companies message.

Customer Engagement


When speaking to Ian Bergin about what is working for small businesses he highlighted the importance of customer engagement and how in many cases a small business can achieve this in a way that a large corporation would find difficult.  ‘SME’s can pivot, be flexible and more customer engaging than bigger businesses. They can also leverage personality, person-ability and real person-to-person engagement in a tangible and real way that monolithic businesses just can’t.’

 Social media

While more radical in his opinions about company websites, Alan Devlin feels similarly about customer relations and clever content.  ‘Forget your website (unless you use it to sell or serve), focus on your social media profile – it’s where the people, and hence customers, are. Always be customer focused, and think ‘Customer First, Content Second, and Business Third’ in your communications.’


Key takeaways? Content and customer engagement will serve small businesses best. If you feel your small business deserves recognition, don’t miss your chance to win and eirSpider Award on 30th of November. Nominations close 27thof September, Apply here

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Gareth Dunlop understands the importance of recognising success…

August 9th, 2017


CEO & Founder of Fathom, a user experience consultancy which works with agencies and organisations to improve online performance, Gareth Dunlop attended the first eir Spider Awards back in the 1990s and has been present at most of them since, as well as judging the Awards on multiple occasions.


When deciding to enter, Gareth felt that the eir Spiders were the ideal platform to celebrate their work with their clients. ‘They are the longest-established awards in the Irish internet calendar, and carry real clout and credibility.’

Since winning an eir Spider Award in 2016, Fathom have been doing increasing work with wearables, service design and IoT and Gareth feels that the Awards have had a positive impact on team moral and have given Fathom real credibility in the marketplace, particularly during business development.


Gareth understands the importance of recognising the success of a company’s technological triumphs, and reward the unique driver’s behind them.

‘At a personal level it is very rewarding for the team, who work so hard all year long, to have their work recognised and to be able to enjoy themselves and celebrate on a night out.  From a business perspective it is important to continually wish to better ourselves,  measure ourselves against other businesses and benchmark ourselves internationally’

To those looking to enter their names, Gareth suggests thinking carefully about how your entry might stand out from the pack, with a particular focus on business metrics and KPIs that will clarify your achievements and matter to judges and other businesses alike.

If you, like Gareth, want to benefit from worthy recognition, don’t forget to nominate your company for the eirSpider Awards. Nominations close 27th of September, apply here.


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The Next ‘Big Thing’ in Digital

August 8th, 2017

We asked some of our esteemed eirSpiders judges what they felt the ‘next-big-thing’ in digital would be, and were not disappointed by their answers…

AI, Voice search and Videoai

According to Robert Farrell there are three areas which could have major impact on the future of digital: Artificial Intelligence, voice search and video content. In terms of chat-bots, social media, online advertising, customer insights and operations, Robert believes Artificial Intelligence will have a major impact. We have seen this used very recently by VHI on Facebook, where you could engage in a conversation with ‘Vee’ (essentially a VHI chat-bot) who motivates you to start running with helpful tips and advice.

Voice Search

Robert also feels that voice search will continue to grow and will have big implications for Search Engine Optimization (SEO), eCommerce and the nature of brands.

Lastly from Robert, in a world where ‘content is king’, video continues to become more prominent in organisations’ content marketing strategies. According to Robert ‘we will continue to see organisations embrace content repurposing as we move from a blog-centred content strategy.’


Just Walk Out’ technology for Retail

amazon go

The next big thing in digital for Ian Bergin is ‘how online and offline merge. We’re seeing this with Amazon brick & mortar acquisitions, online marketing to offline sales conversions & analytics.’

For those who are not in the loop, Amazon is experimenting with expanding its footprint into retail stores. Several bookstores have already opened where customers can use their Amazon accounts to pay for books, and get discounted prices if they are an Amazon Prime member. Additionally, the concept of a checkout-less grocery store is evolving. Amazon recently acquired Whole Foods, and is using that platform to expand upon their revolutionary business model. ‘Just Walk Out’ technology automatically detects when products are taken from or returned to the shelves and keeps track of them in a virtual cart. When you’re done shopping, you can just leave the store.  This might feel like shoplifting but shortly after you exit, your Amazon account will be charged. With a newly acquired patent for the ability to control online access in a store, Amazon Books is creating a new way of retail for brick and mortar stores.

walk out

This development seems like something out of a sci-fi novel but the first ‘Amazon Go’ store is already in Beta testing in Seattle, Washington so you may be visiting a ‘Just Walk Out’ shop near you soon.

The Rise of Blockchain and Augmented Reality


It is Alan Devlin’s opinion that the digital world is already ‘heavily focused on machine -learning, augmented reality and we are also looking at blockchain platforms’.

You would have to have been living under a rock to miss the rise of augmented reality (AR) when Pokémon Go hit the market a year ago and the world went momentarily mad trying to catch a Jigglypuff on the way to work. But AR is being used in a range of capacities in areas outside of gaming. Marketing is a strong arena for virtual and augmented reality. Major motion pictures like Star Wars, Jurassic World, Insurgent, The Avengers: Age of Ultron and others have released virtual reality experiences to generate interest, excitement, and a strong memory associated with the brand. AR is also being used in other sectors like healthcare, education and journalism.


As for blockchain, 2008 saw BlockChain invented as a platform for the first decentralised digital currency, Bitcoin. Bitcoin was a revolution that meant low transaction fees, no middleman, and worldwide transactions. The dollar value of a Bitcoin is constantly changing, but is currently near the $3,000 mark with over 21 million Bitcoins issued.  However, blockchain has extended far beyond Bitcoin – Ethereum, Corda and Chain Core all based around the distributed ledger system – and we can only expect to see this platform more frequently.

Robert Farrell, Ian Bergin and Alan Devlin will bring their expertise and foresight to the eirSpider Awards on the 30th November, 2017. Nominations close 27th of September, don’t miss your opportunity to be in with the chance of winning. Apply here.  

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Meet the Judges 2017: Robert Farrell

August 1st, 2017

Robert Farrell

Course Director at the Digital Marketing Academy of Ireland, Robert Farrell believes that Ireland’s adoption of digital technology and digital marketing has been a key element in our recent economic success.

‘2016 saw huge increases in online spending and ecommerce website traffic but we also saw our share of revenue from international shoppers decline significantly. This highlights the need to continue developing our digital presence on the global stage.’

As an educator Robert feels that eLearning is transforming education just as digital transformed marketing, and having judged the eir Junior Spider Awards previously he is extremely familiar with the eir Spider Awards and feels they are different from other award ceremonies in Ireland.

‘Digital excellence is at the core of the eir Spider Awards and there is a commitment to ensuring that the judges, entrants and winners meet the highest possible standards. As a judge, you need to have in-depth knowledge of your categories and be able to justify why you believe a certain organisation deserves to win compared to the other entrants.’

The best part of being involved in the judging process for Robert is seeing how Irish companies and agencies keep up to date with the latest digital trends compared to their international counterparts and thinks even the process of making a submission is beneficial as it allows an organisation to critical review their digital performance, develop their knowledge and work together to promote their organisation.

What is Robert’s advice for businesses looking to differentiate themselves in the tech space? ‘Find inspiration wherever you can, this can inside and outside of your industry. Keep up to date with international best practices and competitors so that you don’t get left behind’

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Meet the Judges 2017: Bill Liao

August 1st, 2017

bill liao

Diplomat, investor, entrepreneur, business mentor, speaker, philanthropist and author, Bill Liao has been on the eir Spider Awards judging panel for a number of years and still considers the awards a crucial part of the zeitgeist in Ireland. The best part of being involved for Bill, is the opportunity to acknowledge some of the great talents within the digital industry.

A ‘great talent’ in his own right, Bill co-founded the business social network service XING and is a venture partner at SOS Ventures, a global venture capital firm and investment management firm. He is also a special diplomatic envoy for St Kitts and Nevis for sustainable development and the environment, and founded, a not-for-profit organization that is combating global warming by sustainably and holistically reforesting previously degraded land – is impressively approaching planting its millionth tree.

However, the venture that is most commonly heard in conversation among the vox populi in recent years is that of Coder Dojo, founded by Bill Liao and James Whelton in 2011. CoderDojo is a global movement of free, volunteer-led, community-based programming clubs for young people. Anyone aged seven to seventeen can visit a Dojo where they can learn to code, build a website, create an app or a game, and explore technology in an informal, creative, and social environment.

In a mere 6 years, Coder Dojo has grown to more than 1,100 verified Dojos in 63 countries, with new Dojos starting almost every day.

Bill views the eir Spiders as ‘one of the best ways to test your company’ and learn where you stand within the industry, and describes the standard of entries so far as ‘Outstanding, outstanding, outstanding.’ Bill recommends that those entering the eir Spider Awards be confident in their proposals, and be explicit about why they think their work is the best.

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Meet the Judges 2017: Ian Bergin

August 1st, 2017

Ian Bergin

Long-time proponent of online technologies, and current Chief Experience Officer and co-founder of, Ian Bergin is no stranger to the eir Spider Awards and has seen ‘first-hand’ what they can do for a company’s business profile; ‘These awards are prestigious, & getting one can make your efforts to gain new business with a whole new level of credibility.’

Ian is considered a thought-leader in online services, has been a judge in the SIAA CoDIE Awards for cloud service categories since 2012 and has pioneered the ideal in customer-experience-led revenue generation. According  to Ian, the eir Spider Awards ‘the’ awards for anyone in the online/digital space, and is just as enthusiastic about the awards now that he is on the other side of the judging panel.

‘Being able to look behind the scenes at some of the best digital creative out there from Ireland and see how it made a positive impact for those who commissioned it. The story behind the creative is one that rarely gets told outside the walls of the creative offices and it is too often hugely compelling and a real message about its place of importance in today’s business landscape.’

For those creating their entry brief, Ian’s advice is to ‘tell the story’, focusing on your business’s personal narrative and what makes its journey different. Ian insists that regardless of solution size or scale, personality and the ability to be a real person when dealing with customers makes all the difference in the world, and exalts the value of authenticity and understanding –  whether your business is small or a global powerhouse.

When asked what he would say to any business considering entering the awards this year, he had only two words in response: ‘DO IT.’

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Meet the Judges 2017: Alan Devlin

August 1st, 2017


It’s been an interesting year for eDot, according to its founder and 2017 eir Spiders judge, Alan Devlin. As well as taking on some truly high-profile directors including John O’Donovan, CTO and Robert Mbom, Director of International Business, it is eDot’s second year operating as a VC, ‘we’ve met some truly inspirational entrepreneurs, we have invested in some, helped some grow their business and housed others in our new co-working space’.

eDot are also setting up a Central Bank regulated Fund called an ICAV, and will close €100 million by October this year for investment into growth stage software companies in Ireland and selected parts of Europe. ‘Our new fund will be called the eDot Innovation Fund naturally we are very excited about the prospect of helping Irish tech start-ups reaching their global potential.’

As a part of the eir Spiders judging panel, Alan particularly enjoys the collaborative judging and seeing the process play out. Webfactory won 5 awards while Alan was at the helm and he insists ‘it really helped [ Webfactory’s] profile and added at least 10% to our revenue above standard growth.’

In Alan’s opinion the entries in the past have been strong, considered and illuminating and he suggests that anyone considering entering in this year’s awards should ‘be succinct, be bold, and be clear.’

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